Honda ‘realises how hard it is to win’ in World Superbike

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After bringing in an entirely new rider line-up comprising grand prix racing converts Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, Honda has enjoyed an upswing in form compared to the first two seasons of its factory-run CBR1000RR-R project.

Lecuona sits sixth in the riders’ standings at the halfway point of the year while Vierge lies 10th, with the latter now confirmed to be staying on for the 2023 season following last month’s Barcelona test.

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Honda’s last WSBK win came back in 2016 at Sepang courtesy of the late Nicky Hayden, and a trio of third-place finishes mark the best results for the marque since the full relaunch of the works HRC team in 2020.

However, Camier says he is confident that Honda has accepted that a return to winning ways is going to take longer than the brand imagined two years ago, and that long-run success remains achievable.

“I think they realise how hard it is to succeed in this championship,” Camier told Motorsport.com. “Within the rules as well, it’s not [like] MotoGP where you’re free to do things.

“You have to follow the rules, that means you have to look outside the box [for] how to fix things, how to try and improve things, and this is something also with a manufacturer is not really quick to move like this.

“We know that manufacturers are never really super-fast to make changes but also they have a very methodical approach, and this is also working in the long run of where we want to arrive to.

“The pressure is not big. Of course our goal is to win as soon as possible, this is absolutely clear, but it’s not like ‘win or you’re all f***ed’. It’s not like this.”

 

Neither Lecuona nor Vierge have stood on the podium so far in 2022, but the consistency of ex-MotoGP racer Lecuona in particular has kept Honda clear of BMW in the fight for fourth in the manufacturers’ standings.

Reflecting on the first half of the season, Camier admitted he expected a “way more difficult year” with two new riders with little circuit knowledge as well as Honda’s switch to using Showa suspension and Nissin brakes.

However, he also acknowledged that challenging the ‘big three’ of Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Ducati’s points leader Alvaro Bautista as early as this season was never a realistic aim considering Honda’s 2021 position.

“Our position with our bike right now is top six, top five, top four, we are in that area,” said Camier. “For sure the gap to the first three is still there for sure, we can see this. But we have to try and make the difference now to bridge this gap.

“From where we were last year, to go straight there is never going to happen. There are too many little details now, the level is so high with the manufacturers that it takes time to bridge the gap.

“It’s not like, ‘if we fix one thing on the bike we go faster’, it’s not working like this. So we need time and keep working like we are and we will keep making improvements for sure. Also these young riders need time to learn.

“With two young riders we expected this situation; everything is new to them, they need time to learn the tracks, learn the bike. We can only support them as much as we can. We expect it to be difficult.”

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